Code ‘Blue’ at ABC

Alphabet shifts cop drama to shore up Tuesday

ABC is hoping to cure its Tuesday night ratings blues with a dose of “NYPD Blue.”

As part of a radical overhaul of the night, Alphabet execs have decided to shrink the net’s Tuesday comedy block to a single hour and schedule Steven Bochco’s “Blue” at 9 p.m., followed by Bochco’s latest drama, “Philly,” which stays at 10. New Jason Alexander-led “Bob Patterson,” which has struck out with viewers in its two airings, shifts to Wednesdays at 9:30 following “The Drew Carey Show.”

Night will still kick off with “Dharma and Greg,” while “Spin City” slides to 8:30.

Meanwhile, the Columbia TriStar Television-produced soph sitcom “What About Joan” has been canceled, as expected (Daily Variety, Oct. 11). And Denis Leary’s “The Job,” slated to preem next month on Wednesdays, will be held for midseason.

“Our Tuesday night performance has been unacceptable,” ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Lloyd Braun said. “We wanted to make dramatic improvement on the night.”

With the new lineup, ” ‘Philly’ is going to have the best possible lead-in we could give it,” Braun added.

New Tuesday lineup kicks in Nov. 6 with a special two-hour season premiere of “Blue”; “Bob Patterson” and “Spin City” will switch Tuesday timeslots next week. “Dharma” repeats will then fill “Joan’s” 8:30 p.m. slot on Oct. 16 and Oct. 23; Halloween specs fill the 8-9 p.m. hour Oct. 30.

“Bob” bows Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 24.

“Blue” had been skedded to premiere Wednesdays at 10, starting next month. Now, “20/20” will remain in the slot indefinitely; a Friday edition of the newsmag is still expected to return in December.

Bochco said he was thrilled by ABC’s move.

“It seems to me it’s a win-win-win situation,” he said, noting that “Blue” will likely improve ABC’s 9 p.m. hour while giving “Philly” a much better shot at finding its aud.

In addition, “For ‘NYPD Blue’ to not have to compete with ‘Law & Order’ is huge,” Bochco said. “It’s not that we don’t have competition now —

‘Frasier’ is there — but at the very least, there’s a clear choice (between comedy and drama). It feels very bold and smart to me.”

Drama logjam

“Blue” will also now go head-to-head with the much-anticipated Fox drama “24,” which is also skedded to bow Nov. 6, as well as CBS rookie “The Guardian,” the season’s most-watched new drama. Move also leaves NBC laffers “Frasier” and “Scrubs” — the top-rated shows in the hour in key demos — without comedy competition.

The skedding of “Blue” at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific (or 8 p.m. in the Midwest) would have raised eyebrows several years ago, due to the show’s sometimes racy content. But with “Blue” now a well-established entity — and repeats running on cable at even earlier hours — Bochco and ABC execs aren’t worried about any viewer backlash.

ABC execs made the Tuesday sked changes after the net sunk to fourth place among adults 18-49 on the night earlier this week, scoring its lowest-ever in-season marks on the night.

Meanwhile, ABC is leaving its equally troubled Friday night sked in place.

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